Shareable schedules

Our earliest system prototypes did not include a way for people who were not administrative users of the system to view the produced schedules. We assumed that the schedule would just be made in our system and then exported into a school's parent system where the faculty and students would consume it as usual.

What we didn't account for were the reviews and approvals our administrators would need to attain before fully publishing the schedule. It's a little embarrassing how much we had to learn about the intricacies of this world. The good news for you is the lion's share of that learning is behind us, that and the fact that we are good listeners and willing learners. So, we made a publicly viewable schedule that could be reviewed by deans, committees, and faculty (who were not users of the system) while settling upon that final schedule.

Given the broader set of eyes that would be viewing our work, we wanted the schedule to make a good first impression. We worked hard to make the public schedules handsome and easy to consume. We poured lots of design cycles and attention into the details even offering both graphical layouts and sortable catalog-style treatments.

As with lots of technology work, there were unintended consequences of our decisions. It turned out that our schedule presentations were, in many cases, far superior to the school's native way of sharing their schedule not only with their faculty but also with their students. Liking our versions of their schedule better than their own, they started using our views to communicate the schedules with the student population and making our layouts their default vehicle.

In addition to a cleaner presentation, a big plus of leaning on the ofCourse schedule views was sharing the information happened FASTER because no one had to wait to port the data to the parent system. Depending on the amount of effort that went into that transfer, directing folks to the ofCourse schedule views could buy a school as much as ten days of lead time.

I will confess that when we learned that schools were using our public views to share with their students, we panicked a bit. Dozens of eyes suddenly turned into hundreds of eyes. Wanting to guarantee the end-views were super polished we jumped back in there for more design, more tuning, more options. The net result of this mini panic attack was MORE stunning and impressive ways to interact with your produced schedule. Our goal was to have the most winsome schedule views available to anyone anywhere.

Further, we intend to add views and improve the existing views in perpetuity. We often have client schools share smart and handsome formats they have used and asked us if we can replicate them. One school said if we could mechanize this one report they were forced to produce every semester it would save them in the neighborhood of twenty to thirty hours (and those are painful and joyless hours which makes it more like fifty hours in savings--to the person charged with the work at least). As you would guess, we were able to automate the production of the report, and now, every semester, they get to click a link and get their report 29 hours and 58 seconds faster than they used to get their report.

Of course, in all of these cases, every school will still ultimately have to port the schedule into the parent system to support student registration and fidelity within the university infrastructure. But by inviting students and faculty to the ofCourse public views, the Registrar's office can begin that conversation far faster and in higher fashion than they could by relying solely on the university's system of choice.

While it's possible to have too many choices, few would argue the value between having only one option and two, especially when the second is as beauteous and spectacular as our public schedule views.

As always, see you on the scheduling pitch.


Troy Dearmitt

Troy is the CTO & Co-founder at ofCourse.

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